Consult local regulatory agencies in your area
If you feel your supermarket is not limiting exposure and promotion of alcohol to a single area(s), consult your local regulatory agencies. As a starting point, contact your local PUBLIC HEALTH UNIT.
You may also contact the licensing team of the local council in your area as they deal with Local Alcohol Policies or Licence Applications. Here is a list of LOCAL COUNCIL whereby you may search for contact details of the respective alcohol licensing team in your area.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 introduced restrictions on where supermarket and groceries stores can display and promote alcohol. This is now confined to a “single area” within the store. Promotions must not be seen or heard outside of this area or from outside of the store.
Click here to read the legislation relating to single areas for supermarkets.
Consult your local regulatory agencies for the most updated information on alcohol areas in supermarkets. A good starting point is contacting your local PUBLIC HEALTH UNIT .
You may also contact the licensing team of your local council as they deal with Local Alcohol Policies or Licence Applications. Here is a list of LOCAL COUNCIL whereby you may search for contact details of the respective alcohol licensing team in your area.
In 1989, wine and mead became available for sale from grocery stores and supermarkets. This was followed in 1999 with beer. The sale of spirits is not permitted.
The introduction of wine sales into New Zealand supermarkets increased the affordability and consumption of wine markedly. New Zealanders are now drinking twice as much wine as they used to.
There are two major supermarket chains in New Zealand: Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs.
Alcohol is the biggest selling caterory in the supermarket. Many New Zealanders buy their alcohol from supermarkets.
On average, the same alcohol product is sold more cheaply from supermarkets than bottle stores.
The number of supermarkets and grocery stores in New Zealand communities has been linked with a range of alcohol-related harms: antisocial behaviour, dishonesty offences, property abuses, property damage, sexual offences and violent offences.
The placement of alcohol in everyday settings, next to commonly purchased products, may normalise alcohol use in our society. Especially among children. New Zealand children are regularly exposed to alcohol in supermarkets.
Tobacco can't be displayed in supermarkets, but alcohol can. Yet alcohol is the most harmful drug in our society.
New Zealand laws on alcohol promotions (including discounting)
New Zealand law restricts the promotion and/or advertising of alcohol that:
- encourages excessive consumption
- advertises or promotes discounts of 25% or more
This means that it is only against the law to advertise and promote a discount - it is not against the law to have a discount of 25% or more.
This law applies to anyone undertaking a business including on-licences, off-licences, club licences and special licences and to any promotions run by a person or company which is not licensed.
Section 237 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act is called Irresponsible promotion of alcohol. This section prohibits:
- Any person that encourages people, or is likely to encourage people, to consume alcohol to an excessive extent, whether on licensed premises or at any other place
- Any person to promote or advertise a discounted alcohol product that leads people to believe the price is 25% or more below the normal price of the product (other than in a licensed premises or in an off-licence catalogue)
- On-licensed premises to promote or advertise discounted alcohol that leads people to believe the price is 25% or more below the normal price of the product AND can be seen or heard from outside the premises
- Promotions or advertisements of alcohol that is free of charge (does not include free sampling)
- Offers goods and services or the opportunity to win a prize on the condition that alcohol is bought
- Promotions which are in a manner aimed at, or that has, or is likely to have, special appeal to minors
Although off-licence catalogues are excluded from the section, other media is included – such as billboards, window displays, etc.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 also includes restrictions on where supermarket and groceries stores can display and promote alcohol. This is now confined to a “single area” within the store. Promotions must not be seen or heard outside of this area or from outside of the store. For more information on single areas in supermarkets, please click here.
Promotion of discounted alcohol beverages
Of all supermarket products, alcohol is the most sensitive to price promotion
Discounting is a common strategy used to encourage alcohol sales, particularly within off-licences but also in bars and restaurants through the use of ‘happy hours’ etc.
In New Zealand, the majority (55%) of drinkers purchased their alcohol when sold on promotion (cited in the 2014 Ministry of Justice Report).
Supermarkets are more reliant on promotions to drive sales when compared to specialist liquor stores (e.g. bottle stores). In supermarkets, almost 6 in every 10 dollars spent on all items (including alcohol and groceries) in 2018 were sold on promotion, compared to 2 in every 10 dollars spent in liquor stores. In the year ending March 31 2018, 71% and 70% of dollars spent in supermarkets on beer and wine sales respectively, were for products on promotion. This compares to 23% and 31% in liquor stores.
Off all items in supermarkets, sales of alcohol have been shown to be the most sensitive to price promotion, particularly cask wine and beer followed by bottled wine. Simply put, shoppers are very responsive to discounted alcohol. Compared to alcohol sold in supermarkets, individual grocery items (e.g. coffee, toilet paper, confectionery) are less sensitive to promotion in price.
Price-based promotions are the key types of promotion activities for alcohol products
A study of 24 off-licences in Perth and Sydney found that there were 427 unique forms of promotion used across the alcohol outlets. The study found:
- Price-based promotions (including but not limited to discounts) represented 61% of all the types of promotion activities;
- Supermarkets had a higher number of price promotions compared to liquor chain stores;
- The most common form of price promotion was offering multiple items for a discounted price; and
- Wine had the highest number of price promotions, followed by spirits, beer and RTDs.
Effects of price promotions of alcohol in point-of-sale
A US study found that alcohol products in larger-volume packages (e.g., 12-pack) were more likely to be promoted than smaller packages (e.g., 6-pack). This finding has significant implications for reducing the harm from heavy episodic drinking.
An Australian study found that drinkers who participated in point-of-sale promotions report purchasing a greater quantity of alcohol than those who did not participate. This is particularly evident for beer purchases (average of 26.8 standard drinks vs 16.4), followed by RTDs (11.5 standard drinks vs 8.9) and wine (16.1 standard drinks vs. 13.8). Young drinkers were found to use descriptors such as ‘Price’ and ‘Cheap’ as the main reason that they purchased wine.
Another study also found that young people are very aware of in-store sale promotions in order to maximise their alcohol purchases within their budgets. Cheap alcohol may also facilitate social get-togethers, that would not have occurred otherwise.
NZ laws on the discounting of alcohol
New Zealand law stipulates that any person commits an offence if they advertise discounts of 25% or more, where the advertisement can be seen or heard from outside of a licensed premise. Discounts of 25% of more are permitted inside a licensed premise or in an off-licence price catalogue. It is important to note that it is only the advertising, not the offer of the discount, that is prohibited. In other words, heavy discounting activities (e.g., 60% discounts) inside supermarkets (and other premises) continue to be seen in New Zealand, especially during the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
Note that it is illegal to offer free alcohol. Read more in the next section - GET PREPARED
Progress and impact of prohibiting different types of price-promotion
Take action on the low price of alcohol
- Share any information on prices and promotions you have gathered with others through our Facebook Group. It could be useful in planning for advocacy efforts at the national level - please check out the section on advocacy for more information.
- Take opportunities to raise awareness of the effectiveness of pricing strategies with local decision makers and influencers. For tips and assistance, please check out the section on advocacy for more information.
- Raise the issue in the media through a letter to the editor or offering an opinion piece – for more tips and assistance, please check out the section on engaging with mainstream media or connect with community champions.
- Include price issues on any submissions on draft legislation (i.e. Bills) which relate to alcohol. We will develop a submission template on price measures when opportunities arise.
Submission template - price measures on alcohol
- To assist you, read more information on ALCOHOL EXCISES TAXES MINIMUM UNIT PRICING
- Join or support other advocacy efforts towards the implementation of more effective price controls, please check out the section on Mobilising Others for more ideas.
The price of alcohol
- Cheap and discounted alcohol increases the demand for alcohol and encourages heavier drinking.
- The introduction of alcohol (beer, wine and mead) into supermarkets (wine in 1989 and beer in 1999) had a considerable impact on lowering the price of alcohol. The price of any particular beer or wine is generally found to be cheaper in supermarkets than bottle stores.
- The introduction of ready-to-drinks (RTDs or alcopops) also had a considerable impact on drinking, particularly on young people. They are relatively cheap and attractive to young people.
- Increasing the retail price of alcohol is one of the most effective strategies to reduce accessibility and alcohol-related harm. It can be achieved in a number of ways including; increasing excise tax, introducing Minimum Unit Pricing, restricting the promotion of discounted alcohol.
The low price of alcohol is a key driver in our drinking culture.
Alcohol is now more affordable than it has ever been. Wine has particularly become more affordable. This means that it now takes us less time to earn enough money to buy a standard drink.
In New Zealand, off-licences are now selling approximately 75% of all alcohol. Supermarkets are big players in the retail market.
High liquor outlet density in a community may lead to competition, which drives prices down.
Increasing the price of alcohol is one of the strongest tools in our kete / basket to reduce harm. A large body of high-quality research suggests that a 10% increase in price reduces overall alcohol consumption by 5%. In fact, it is the most important strategy.
Restricting alcohol advertisng and sponsorship is one of three 'best buys' evidence-based measures to reduce alcohol harm endorsed by the World Health Organisation. There is strong public support for restricting alcohol advertising and sponsorship in New Zealand in the same way as is tobacco advertising and sponsorship is restricted. Product labelling is important for branding and marketing of alcoholic beverages, but also provides a key platform for including information about risks associated with drinking, particularly the risks of drinking during pregnancy. Research shows graphic pictorial health warnings are more effective than text warnings.